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From the 3rd Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

True Comes in All Colors: The Atlanta Hawks' Diversity & Inclusion Campaign

Entered in Diversity & Inclusion


We believe that True Comes in ALL Colors. The diversity of Atlanta's citizens is the lifeblood that makes our city great. We are committed to creating an environment of diversity & inclusion at work and at play. True Comes in All Colors serves as the umbrella for spotlighting cultural contributions across race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, sensory needs, and more throughout the City of Atlanta during the 2017-18 season.

Our mission is simple:

The Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club is dedicated to:

With this mission in mind, we set out to make a meaningful and positive impact through embracing our city's diversity – via targeted outreach, sparking open and educational conversations, and engaging with the entire Atlanta community in authentic, difference-making ways.

Strategy and Execution

Our chief diversity & inclusion officer, Nzinga Shaw, is the first person to hold this position in the NBA. Shaw reports to the CEO, and provides guidance to the leadership team to engender inclusion in every facet of the business. She developed a strategy to embed equity in programmatic activities, governance and daily administration.

Within her first 90 days, Shaw established a Diversity & Inclusion Council comprising 20 members including internal employees AND key external stakeholders. The Council, an NBA first, meets monthly and is divided into three subcommittees in the areas of internal employee engagement, fan & community experience and strategic partnerships.

Business Resource Groups

The Hawks D&I Council established Business Research Groups for emerging demographics for: recruitment, retention, talent development and market outreach.

Sensory-Inclusive Room

The Hawks are the first team in the Southeast Division to play in a sensory-inclusive venue. Guests with PTSD, autism, dementia, and other sensory needs can receive sensory bags and weighted lap pads at State Farm Arena to ease their in-arena experience.

Supplier Diversity – State Farm Arena Transformation Project

In October 2018, State Farm Arena will open following a historic $192.5 million-dollar transformation. Construction and management firm H.J. Russell and Company, in association with Legends Project Development, served as the project management team. The company is one of the largest minority-owned businesses in America and is the nation's largest black-owned construction and real estate firm.

In November 2017, our organization hired H.J. Russell and Company to serve as the sole real estate development project management team for our 90,000-square-foot practice facility in Brookhaven, Georgia.

Courageous Conversations

Our D&I Council launched "Courageous Conversations," an internal forum for employees to freely discuss current events and the issues shaping our city and nation. In 2017-18, we extended these conversations into the community.


In October, to authentically connect with Atlanta's LGBTQ community, we built a custom Carnival-themed float to march in the Atlanta Pride Parade for the third consecutive year. We enlisted DJ Toni K – popular with the LGBTQ community – to play music from our float.


We chose a theme of "Disruption" for the 2018 MOSAIC Symposium and featured the most disruptive voice in sports media, Jemele Hill, to deliver a keynote addressing the power of using one's voice and platform to disrupt norms. Other prominent speakers at MOSAIC 2018 included political commentator Symone Sanders and trans businesswoman Gabrielle Claiborne.

Our strategic approach to diversity & inclusion last season impacted underserved youth, the LGBTQ community, families in underrepresented areas and our employees.


We had more than 150 volunteers at the Pride Parade – including executives, cheerleaders and employees – our largest number of participants to date, and our float received the second place trophy in the corporate division. We also accomplished a goal of player participation, as Hawks forward/center Mike Muscala marched alongside our float, a great sign of celebrity solidarity for the reported 200,000+ attendees of the Pride Festival.

More than 300 leaders from the business and professional community attend MOSAIC, garnering national attention from lifestyle, news and sports outlets. Following the symposium, a survey of attendees found:

Our Courageous Conversations featured subject matter experts on topics such as domestic violence awareness, suicide prevention and trans activism, to inform our employees that we can all be heroes despite what we've endured. We built seven basketball courts in underrepresented areas around the city, increasing access to the game and supplementing the selected neighborhoods with programming, wellness care, meals and activities.

Our sensory-inclusive room will open this fall when our arena reopens, allowing guests with sensory needs to comfortably enjoy basketball games, concerts and other ticketed events in our building.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

The Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club


Entry Credits